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During a recent discussion of his stop-motion hit Isle of Dogs – which we reviewed over on our Patreon Bonus show a few weeks back – it struck us that the filmography of Wes Anderson had largely passed both of us by. Despite this, we still felt like we knew enough about what one of his movies is supposed to be, that we found ourselves describing Isle of Dogs as “…very Wes Anderson“.
Clearly, we were in danger of drawing assumptions, so we decided to take a look at one of Anderson’s defining early successes, The Royal Tenenbaums. Released in 2001, the movie united an A-list cast including Gene Hackman, Anjelica Huston, Ben Stiller, Gwyneth Paltrow and Luke Wilson as a highly dysfunctional family of wealthy New York intellectuals. It was an Oscar-nominated critical darling and until the release of The Grand Budapest Hotel, Anderson’s highest grossing movie as a director.
Watching the movie, we recognised a lot of tropes that we’d come to expect from a Wes Anderson film – quirky characters, a whimsical, fairytale quality (the movie features a narration by Alec Baldwin, ripped from the pages of a non-existent source novel) and a heavy dose of irony and upper middle-class ennui. However, as much as the film bears almost no resemblance to the real world – one of our drinking games this week involves attempting to spot non-speaking extras in outdoor scenes – there is an endearing humanity and tenderness to generate emotional stakes worth investing in.
So far, Anderson has never made a sequel to one of his movies, but if he did, The Royal Tenenbaums would probably be a strong contender. What would another twenty years of inevitable emotional turmoil and disappointment have done to the family – particularly in the wake of Royal’s demise at the end of the original film?
We don’t really have an answer to that, but we do have a veritable bonanza of alternative spin-off ideas in this week’s episode, including a board game, a reality TV crossover and a Grey Gardens-inspired documentary. You can check out the full discussion in this week’s episode using the links at the top of this blog post.
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Next week, we’ll be talking about a movie that’s already been spun off into a hit musical and a popular children’s TV show, but never quite managed to get a formal sequel off the ground. Until then, thanks for listening and don’t smoke in the bathtub!